After a span of about two-and-a-half years, I Am the Avalanche have released their third studio album entitled Wolverines. The first thing I’m going to point out is the clever title. Wolverines, having a reputation of possessing tremendous power in proportion to their size, are a great way to sum up a pop-punk/punk-rock band like IATA. There’s no doubt that the members have been through a lot over the years, and they all put up a good fight with Wolverines.
After IATA’s self-titled first album, it took them six years to release their sophomore album Avalanche United. The band dealt with issues ranging from the divorce of frontman Vinnie Caruana and his spouse to record label setbacks, causing them to find other ways to make ends meet rather than relying on touring.
The opening track “Two Runaways” takes the listener on a mental field trip back to Americana-style rock and roll of the 1970s. The overall feel of the song almost gives off a nostalgic presence as well, which ties into the music style nicely. The listener can’t help but smile when Caruana sings the chorus “He’s gonna marry her/ He’s never gonna let it fall apart/ Two runaways, a real American work of art.” It’s always interesting to hear how various influences affect a band’s sound, and this case is no different.
The time period seems to completely shift just after the first track is over. The overall genre of punk-rock couldn’t be summed up any better than what’s contained within the track “177”. The chugging of Brandon Swanson’s guitar, complemented with Brett Romnes’ drumming style and Caruana’s shouting within the chorus are enough to have the number 177 oddly stuck within the listener’s head.
The strongest of each band member comes out in the song “Anna Lee”. It starts on a strong note with Caruana switching his vocal style to sing in a semi-clean manner before crescendo-ing back to his unclean style in the chorus. The subject matter within the lyrics themselves are very emotional, referencing Caruana’s failed marriage. His sense of confusion and abandonment can be felt in the simple, yet powerful chorus “Anna Lee/ You never said to me/ That you felt that way/ Nothing can bring you back.”
Another important aspect in a band is the ability for members to complement each other’s styles. A prime example of this can be felt in the track “Where were you?” It’s already been established that Caruana finds success in unclean vocals in the punk-rock scene, and the fact that Swanson’s smooth guitar riffs in the chorus complement Caruana’s voice so well is worth noting. I catch myself constantly returning to this track because of how well the members of IATA weave their styles together into one all their own.
Wolverines takes a few listens before tracks begin to distinguish themselves from one another. However, when you begin to break down each track, you realize how different they all are in structure. Each one presents a different struggle or a different chapter in life, which is something to appreciate. Being able to endure what I Am the Avalanche have been through since their first album and continuing to make music is something any wolverine would be proud of.